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Thread: Little GS, Big Adventure - F650GS to Alaska from Philly leaving 5/21

  1. #46
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Just got caught up with your adventure. Thanks so much for sharing. Your pictures brought back so many wonderful memories! And a heart stopping scare or two in those construction zones!

    Voni
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  2. #47
    criminaldesign
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    be safe and enjoy. take your time and absorb it all.

  3. #48
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Day 29 - A peaceful ride to Watson Lake, Yukon.

    Day 29 - Thursday, June 18, 2009
    Start: Whitehorse, Yukon Territory
    End: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory
    Trip Miles Today: 271
    Total Trip Miles: 6557

    Today was a pretty quiet day. There was no difficulty with construction zones as yesterday. The road conditions were much improved. The distance traveled was short-under 300 miles. The weather cooperated by remaining dry (though I’d wish for it to be a bit warmer-mid 50s most of the day), and the route was the same as I had traveled several weeks ago while northbound, so no surprises nor all new scenic wonders. Low intensity days like today give one lots of time to think. One thing to think about was the interesting guy I met in Teslin this morning. See the picture of the white pickup truck with the kayak on top, just behind my bike? The truck belongs to this guy, an Arizonan, who is headed for Eagle, Alaska – about 700 miles up the AK highway from here. When he gets to Eagle he’s going to put that kayak in the Yukon River, ride the river and the rapids some 1000 miles to the Bering Sea and then he’s going to paddle across the Bearing Sea to Nome. All this hopefully before September 1. Solo. Now THAT’S and adventure! It makes my trip seem like a quick ride down to the 7-11 for a slurpee (and return!)

    I’ve made a decision regarding routing for the next several days. Rather than go to Prince George via the Cassiar Highway I’m going to continue on The Alaska Highway for 2 more days to Fort St. John, BC, then on to Prince George via that Route. It’s about 100 miles longer but I like the speed I’ll be able to maintain, and the towns with lodging seem to be spaced a little more to my liking. Also, I actually went South on the Cassiar for a few miles today and there are signs alluding to construction and highway closures some 400 miles South near Kitwanga. Besides that, I’d like to have a look at the mountainous portion of the Alaska Highway between Watson Lake and Fort Nelson. It’s supposed to be the most scenic portion of the highway and I kinda missed out while northbound due to snow/slush/ice/fog/freezing my butt off a couple of weeks ago. Unfinished business. In any case, after Prince George (I expect to arrive there on Sunday) it’s on southward toward Bellingham, WA and re-entry into the US on Monday or Tuesday.

    The F650GS continues without any issues whatsoever. Keeping my fingers crossed. I did meet 2 bikers today who had experienced flat tire troubles recently. Don’t need any of that! The number of Northbound bikes has clearly picked up a great deal. The overpowering volume leader is (surprise!) GSs. The population is made up of mostly late model boxers, R1150Gs and R1200GS. Have also seen a few F(nowG)650GS thumpers but only two other examples of the new F650/600GS twins. I'd wager that the next most popular brand is either Suzuki V-Stroms or Harleys.

    Onward to Ft. Nelson bright & early in the AM!


    The "Kayaking to Nome" guy!


    Teslin, YT. Metal grid bridges can sometimes be a little spooky. I kinda wonder about doing one with a trailer on!


    Yukon River crossing just SE of Whitehorse, YT

    There are always more pictures to see at http://jackb1.smugmug.com
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  4. #49
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    As I remember the metal grate bridge at Teslin is the WORST I've ever been on.

    In the rain ; )

    Voni
    sMiling
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  5. #50
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    I cannot repeat what Annie said to me over the radio when she saw the Teslin Bridge looming before her. It was her first grated bridge; nothing like starting with the best.

    Really enjoying your thread!
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  6. #51
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Day 30 - Watson Lake to Ft. Nelson. A day as good as it gets!

    Day 30 Friday, June 19, 2009
    Start: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory
    End: Fort Nelson, British Columbia
    Trip Miles Today: 311
    Total Trip Miles: 6868

    Today was just an all around great day! It started out in perfect weather and the temperature was even a little bit warmer. By the time I had been on the road just over an hour I had seen (and photographed) another black bear, some bison were kind enough to pose with the bike, and the temperature was climbing into the 50s. What more could one ask for?

    Todays route, was once again simply Alaska Highway southbound. For nearly the first 150 miles of todays route the highway follows the Liard River Valley. On the northbound trip this was where I saw the greatest concentration of wildlife, especially bears. I had hoped to see a number of them again today but at the end of the day the tally was only two. I did have a number of Bison sightings early in the day however. One thing that I saw, that I had hoped not to see, was a large area of forest damaged by recent wildfires in the area between Coal River and Liard River. The damage is pervasive, the smoke still hangs in the valleys, and the smell just goes on forever. Wildfires are an unfortunate element of life in this area. This fire, at the junction of the Smith and Liard Rivers was over 100 sq. Kilometers at its peak and the Alaska Highway was actually closed for some period on June 4. I spoke to some northbound riders last week and they said that even several days after the fire was brought under control they were using pilot cars to lead traffic through the smokiest areas because visibility was extremely limited. Glad I didnt have to go through that!

    After the small village of Liard River the Alaska Highway takes a turn up into the higher elevations of the Northern Rockies toward the Muncho Lake Provincial Park, one of the most beautiful places you will ever see. When I came through this area 3 weeks ago there was still ice on the lake and snow flying. Returning today I found the lake, and park, in full summer regalia. Lodges weer full, people were out on boats and in floatplanes and the whole place had an energy to it that I hadnt seen even a very few weeks ago.

    Following Muncho Lake I made a gas stop at the Toad River Lodge (where I met three guys from Calgary bound for Inuvik on KLR650s now THATS an adventure!) then began the long uphill climb to Summit Pass, the highest point on the entire Alaska Highway. I am glad I chose this route today because I had unfinished business with this place! When I can through before it was 30 degrees (f), it was snowing/raining/sleeting, it was windy, and the mile long construction area just below the pass was doing its best to imitate a mud bog. And yours truly came very close to wallowing in that bog! Anyway, today it was some 30 degrees warmer, partly sunny, and even the construction area was firmed up to a point where it represented no particular challenge. So, I guess the score is even.

    After the pass, its a long downhill ride to Fort Nelson, where I am holed up tonight in what is best described as the least ǣelegant of hotels so far. Tomorrow, its a short day down to Dawson Creek, then on to Prince George on Sunday. Its exciting to think about having time to do laundry once again thats on my short worklist for tomorrow! Im still planning to re-enter the US on Monday or Tuesday near Seattle, then on to Oregon to visit friends a day or 2 later. At some point Ill have to face up to the task of cooking up a route to take me East but I havent quite come to grips with that one yet. Soon.

    Thanks for riding with me!




    Smoke still lingers from Wildfire near Liard River


    Muncho Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia



    There are many more pics available at http://jackb1.smugmug.com
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  7. #52
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Day 31 - Ft. Nelson, BC. to Fort. St. John, BC. A rainy, boring, tedious day!

    Day 31 Saturday, June 20, 2009
    Start: Fort Nelson, British Columbia
    End: Fort St. John, British Columbia
    Trip Miles Today: 254
    Total Trip Miles: 7122

    As much as yesterday was just about a perfect day, today was about as nondescript as they get. A paltry 254 miles through the ǣLand of the Interminably Boring Straight Roads. Ok so there were a few sweeping curves now and then but Im back in the prairie for God's sake. There is very little clever or interesting to be said about today. Morning drizzle morphed into a full-on rainstorm for just over an hour through the middle part of the ride. Fortunately the rain presented no real problem as the roadway is well drained, traffic was light and I had appropriate rain gear. As usual, visibility was the main issue in the heaviest rain. That being said, I did re-prove the well known (to motorcyclists) scientific fact that rainwater is inexorably drawn to the human crotch- regardless of what rain gear you might wear. I take no credit for this discovery. This fact was discovered long ago, and previously documented by the journalist Peter Egan (among others.) For the most part the highway did not have standing water issues but the OEM Bridgestone Battle Wing BW501s are starting to get pretty worn (after about 8500 miles) and I'm becoming increasingly circumspect in the wet. Pretty fair chance I'll have to replace them before the end of the trip. I am starting to strategise when and where with no real conclusion yet. Also, not sure I want to replace them with another set of Battle Wings. I'd like something that copes with the off road stuff a bit better. Anakees? I'm open to other opinions and insights so don't hold back! Today there was also no scenery to speak of and wildlife pickins were slim. No moose (though there were signs indicating the presence of same), no bears, only a solitary whitetail deer, and the odd ground squirrel. Nor did I see a sasquatch, despite the presence of warning signs for them (him?) too. Just pounding miles in the rain with strange songs rolling over and over in my head (Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" - don't ask 'cause I have no explanation) All in all just a day that I needed to get through in order to position myself for the next leg.

    Despite yesterday's excellence, I truly regret not going down the Cassiar from Watson Lake. However, I am looking forward to tomorrow. First Ill cover the 47 miles to Dawson Creek and arrive back at Mile ǣ0 of the Alaska Highway. This will complete my AK Highway round trip: Mile ǣ0 to Alaska and back to Mile ǣ0. After Dawson Creek Ill get on a new (for me) route and head basically South and West, back into the Northern Rocky Mountains on my way to Prince George, BC. via the John Hart Highway, Canada Route 97. I am confident that this will be WAY more interesting than today! Two days later, on Tuesday, I plan to be in Portland, Oregon. In those two days Ive got to cover over 700 miles but there are a couple of routes to pick from so I anticipate working that out in the next 24 hours. I'm very open to thoughts on routes south from Prince George. Is the Sea to Sky worth taking even though it's longer? Wish I had someone to tell me. I also looked at the British Columbia Highways website and it looks like a lot of construction that way. Decisions, decisions!

    Tonight is the eve of my Birthday and I am celebrating by having microwaved popcorn in my hotel room while doing laundry. Is life good or what? Tomorrow I plan to celebrate by sharing a granola bar with a moose or some other worthy wildlife creature. If I can find one!


    Nice sign. No moose!


    Quick! Get that rain gear on!


    Didn't see any of these either.


    Muddy gas stop after the rains came!

    More pictures of my ride are available at http://jackb1.smugmug.com
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  8. #53
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Happy Birthday!

    The Sea to Sky highway is definitely worth it, BUT. Paul and I were planning on using it to go to Hyder but were cautioned by several people that the construction is endless and horrendous. Don't know from personal experience.

    Voni
    sMiling
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  9. #54
    2wheelsround-The Rider
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    Keep going

    Quote Originally Posted by jhbfly View Post
    Hi! I've found a number of local folks who have popped on to my radar scope as a result of my trip and my posts. It's very cool. Won't be going to the MOA rally this year as i have to be at a wedding in Vermont. Good luck planning your adventure trip. Keep me posted!
    Jack

    Keep going. The more I read the more I am inspired to head North!!

  10. #55
    Registered User womanridge's Avatar
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    I've been enjoying your ride reports. If you choose to buy tires, you may want to consider Tigard BMW in Portland Oregon. I made a trip out to the northwest last fall, and I too was concerned about the tread on my rear tire. I contacted another member of the MOA forum in the Portland area and he referred me to them. They got me in and out with only a short wait. New tires sure give a person peace of mind.
    P.M. me if you need info on their location and thank you again for your reports.

  11. #56
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by womanridge View Post
    I've been enjoying your ride reports. If you choose to buy tires, you may want to consider Tigard BMW in Portland Oregon. I made a trip out to the northwest last fall, and I too was concerned about the tread on my rear tire. I contacted another member of the MOA forum in the Portland area and he referred me to them. They got me in and out with only a short wait. New tires sure give a person peace of mind.
    P.M. me if you need info on their location and thank you again for your reports.
    Tigard was one dealer that I was thinking about contacting in the next day or 2. I've got their info from the Anonymous book but thanks for the offer. PS thanks for following my ride too! Ride safe, Jack
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  12. #57
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Day 32 - Fort. St. John, BC to Prince George, BC. Back to the Canadian Rockies!

    Day 32 Sunday, June 21, 2009
    Start: Fort St. John, British Columbia
    End: Prince George, British Columbia
    Trip Miles Today: 293
    Total Trip Miles: 7415

    It was quite easy to get up early today as the fire alarm in the hotel went off about 5:30. Nice! It was, of course, a false alarm but its pretty hard to go back to sleep after listening to that screeching for 5 minutes. Nonetheless this was the start of my day and, it turns out, the only untoward part.

    At departure time it was already in the mid 50s and sunny so the weather part was handled, again! I almost actually felt a bit guilty about how good Ive had it weatherwise after talking to two guys (R1150RT, R12GS) from Nebraska in the hotel parking lot this morning. They basically said that they they had been in rain almost continuously since they left Omaha. Whew, thats tough. Anyway Ill take all the good weather days I can get and this was a really good one all day long!

    The early morning route down to Dawson Creek was a little more of the same uninspiring prairie route that ended the day yesterday. This being the case I did take the opportunity, about 20 miles out of Dawson Creek, to jump off the main route and enjoy a short stretch of the old, original Alaska Highway. The 6 mile side trip also includes the chance to drive across the historic curved wooden Kiskatinaw River Bridge. This 531 ft long structure is the only original timber bridge from the original portion of the highway, built in 1942, that is still in use today. A very interesting structure and there was the added bonus that nobody else was on the road, if even for that short distance.

    Shortly after the Kiskatinaw Bridge I arrived in Dawson Creek for two items of business. One, to gas up, and two, to take the requisite photo at the Mile ǣ0 marker and document having completed the round trip from Mile ǣ0 to Alaska and return. Got my ticket punched for a round trip!

    Then it was off for the 240 mile jaunt to Prince George. While this portion starts out with a bit more of the straight featureless stuff, two interesting things happened almost immediately. First the Mountains came into view to the Southwest. This instantly put me in a better frame of mind. Secondly I spied a momma moose and calf off the right side of the road. As momma mooses have been known to do, she ran right into the roadway and directly across the bow of the car that I was following. Based on his actions, Im pretty sure the driver hadnt seen her and was , shall we say, a bit surprised! Fortunately, no crash ensued. During all this commotion, baby moose elected to stay on the right side of the road and positioned perfectly so that I could cruise up , stop, get out the camera, and squeeze off a few shots. Which I did. While I was stopped it dawned on me that I was between a mother moose and her calf which is probably not a good place to be, so I buttoned up and went on my way. Never saw mom again and the baby just disappeared in my mirrors.

    A short time later the road delivered me to the medium sized town of Chetwynd, the ǣChainsaw Carving Capital of the World. I was disappointed to find that I had missed a huge Chainsaw Carving Contest just one week ago! It turns out that chainsaw carving isnt just an art form, its a competitive sport! Who knew?

    The best part fo the trip came following Chetwynd as the highway follows the Pine River Valley and makes its way higher and higher to eventually arrive at the Pine Pass through the mountains. There is unspoiled scenic wonder to behold around every corner and my pictures dont do any of it justice. Near the top of the pass is Azouzetta Lake, a setting that, in my mind rivals Crater Lake for natural beauty, even though my pictures don't do it justice.

    Coming down the other side of the pass, the highway follows Misinchinka River Valley, then passes scenic McLeod Lake and subsequently follows the Crooked River most of the way to the lumber Industry Town of Prince George. There are great Provincial Parks and wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities throughout this area.

    Looking for a bigger day tomorrow ideally it will be solidly over 400 miles and leave me within shouting distance of the US border. The Canadian portion of my trip is quickly drawing to a close. Im gonna try to get up early but hope to do so without the aid of a fire alarm ringing in my ears. Weather looks promising. Off we go. One last full day in Canada!








    Pine River Valley


    Azouzetta Lake

    Lots more pics at http://jackb1.smugmug.com
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  13. #58
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    Day 33 - Prince Grorge, BC to Abbotsford, BC. Cariboo Hwy. and Fraser River Canyon.

    Day 33 Monday, June 22, 2009
    Start: Prince George, British Columbia
    End: Abbotsford, British Columbia
    Trip Miles Today: 437
    Total Trip Miles: 7852


    Up early again. No fire alarm, just want 2 get early start, as I had a long day planned. The Route today was, again, Rte 97 South, also known over this segment as the Cariboo Highway. Weather started out just perfect save for the fact that it was a little "nippy" at departure (39 deg F). Some rain showers later in the day and I climber in and out of the rain gear two times. Nonetheless a pretty pleasant day!

    The first 250 miles of todays trip was a pleasant enough, if unremarkable, tour through the lushly forested rolling hills of British Columbia. Forest Industries are a mainstay of the Province and the cities along the way, Quesnel, Williams Lake and others are dominated by the sawmills, wood pellet plants, and plywood manufacturing facilities that shape the economy of the area. Sadly, with the current economic downturn, especially the drop in new housing starts, demand is well off for building products so these communities are hurting along with much of the rest of North America. This industry is also being pressured by another issue that is not in any way related to the economy and is likely a larger threat. Beetles. In particular is the Mountain Pine Beetle which is responsible for the destruction of tens of thousands of acres of mature pine forests in this area. Dead mature trees can be seen almost everywhere, sometimes entire mountainsides of dead trees! Naturalists are working actively with forest industry teams to help combat this threat to the livelihood of the entire central portion of BC.

    Over much of its length the Cariboo Highway follows the Fraser River Valley. At the northern end the river valley is spacious and wide. However, south of Grand Cache the valley becomes narrower, it becomes surrounded by higher mountains, and the river proceeds downhill more steeply through the Fraser River Canyon. The Fraser River and the Canyon were named for Simon Fraser, the first white man to descend the river in 1808. The Cariboo Highway through the Fraser River Canyon is a spectacular trip with fantastic scenery at every turn, and the ride lasts some 50 miles! Riding the Fraser River Canyon was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. Great twisties and spectacular vistas at every turn. I only wish there were more turnouts to provide photo ops. When I came through today it was also terribly windy and gusty. It made me wish, for the first time on this trip, that I was on a larger, heavier bike (R12GS ??). It also made me wonder, at times, if the standard 12 ft. wide highway lane is really wide enough. Nuf said about that!

    Made 437 miles today, stopped for a lot of pictures and still found my way to a hotel in Abbotsford, BC by 5:30. Will overnight here then jump across the border into the US early tomorrow. Tomorrows goal is to be south of Portland by the end of the day, and to integrate a stop at the BMW dealer in Seattle (mostly to just check it out dont really need anything cept possibly tires but Im pretty sure he wont be able to accommodate me unannounced. The tire deal will happen a few more days down the road, if at all. Still looking at possibilities. Wednesday Ill make my way to the Medford, Oregon area to visit a friend from high school. Then some interesting plans for the weekend that Ill tell you about tomorrow.



    Williams Lake, BC


    Pine beetle infestation, near Ashcroft, BC


    Fraser River Canyon near Hells Gate
    For more pictures from the entire trip go to http://jackb1.smugmug.com
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

  14. #59
    Cage Rattler wezul's Avatar
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    Hey Jack!
    Looks like you are having a great trip, what do you do for adventure?

    Man that F650 is packed up, how's it ride?
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. #60
    Registered User jhbfly's Avatar
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    You're absolutely right. I'm having a GREAT trip! As you've correctly observed, I've got the bike pretty fully loaded. Still, I don't think the total load is more than having an adult passenger on the back seat. I intend to weigh all my stuff when I get home just to let everyone know how much there really was. The bike copes with the weight pretty well. The one thing that was a little disconcerting at first is that it doesn't seem to like a bunch of weight up high in the back and becomes demonstrably more "wobbly" at low speeds. This is something that I've gotten pretty used to but I can tell you that it makes the off road stuff less pleasant, especially in on softer surfaces. The bike also blows around in crosswinds more than I might have hoped but I'm willing to write that off to the fact that it's still just a middleweight bike. The topcase up so high and duffel on the rear seat may, contribute some to that too. I'm not really sure. All that being said the bike has been an overall excellent companion for this trip.
    '09 F650GS

    Read about my 2009 Alaska trip at:
    http://www.2wheels2alaska.com

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